Physiotherapists use a variety of treatments to help muscles and joints overcome injury and work to their full potential. These treatments include: exercise programmes to improve mobility and strengthen muscles; manipulation and mobilisation to reduce pain and stiffness; electrotherapy such as ultrasound to break down scar tissue; acupuncture; hydrotherapy; and massage.
Three-year degree course or longer, signified by the initials SRP (State Registered Physiotherapist) and MCSP (Member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists). Beware physiotherapists without these qualifications: they may have only completed a short physiotherapy course, and they are not required to have insurance.
Ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, shoulder and back pain, leg-muscle pulls and strains, and other overuse injuries. They will also provide postoperative therapy and care.
When to go
If your injury hasn’t cleared up after five to seven days of applying RICE treatment at home. Runners drawing close to an important race may want to visit their doctor immediately to ask for a referral.
What to expect
A musculoskeletal evaluation that will include a medical history and an examination of your range of motion, strength and flexibility. The therapist will also review your training programme to determine how the injury occurred – and how to prevent it recurring. Once the cause is diagnosed, the therapist can design a specific rehabilitation programme to treat the injury.
Andrew Strong, a club runner from Grimsby, didn’t want treatment to infringe on his 60-mile-a-week build-up to the London Marathon, despite a niggling pain in his right ankle. He visited a physiotherapist reluctantly, who confirmed a torn ligament, although Strong had no recollection of turning the ankle at all. “The injury had been with me for almost a year, although I’d always tried to put it to the back of my mind. It would have been much better to have gone to the physio before.”
A few stretches were prescribed, and after three sessions, which included ultrasound treatment and massage, the injury had cleared up. “I was amazed. I didn’t miss a day’s running. At first I had to concentrate on steadies rather than faster work, but after 10 days I was back on the hard stuff. And I still ran a PB at London!”
Cost of treatment
£30-35 for an initial consultation, then £25-£30 for each following consultation. If you are seeking treatment on the NHS, you will need to be referred by your GP, and you should expect a two- to three-week wait for treatment.
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy; 020 7306 6666; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.csp.org.uk